Tag Archives: baking

Sunday Morning Catch Up

I haven’t been particularly fluent in the last week and I’ve missed a few things out.

The anti-coagulant blood test came and went. They managed to get the blood first time and the next appointment is in two weeks time so things are back on track. I’m hoping to extend the interval so I only need monthly tests. I know someone who has quarterly tests, which would be even better.

We went to the farm on Friday, as I mentioned and found that Evie the sheep dog had died at the weekend. The general view is that she had eaten poison, though I’m not sure where she would have found any as all the rat poison round the place is put out properly in bait boxes. It’s not the best run farm but they do get that right.

She was bred to herd sheep, and as I mentioned when she first arrived she immediately tried to herd the Quercus group, but she was never properly trained and I’m not sure if she had a fulfilled life or not. She didn’t seem overly happy at times, which is a shame.


The new puppy

The men in sheds were saying how good my bread was on Friday. This isn’t linked to any proper measure of quality, they just used to like getting free bread when I was practising and made too much. I said I didn’t bake these days as the kneading plays havoc with my arthritis. Next thing I knew I was being offered healing.

I’m not much of one for faith healing and that sort of thing, and was prepared to feel no benefit, but can’t say that was the case. There may have been some improvement for a couple of days, but it might just be wishful thinking. The jury is out, but I’m certainly not going to dismiss it. The improvement may show more about my imagination than about my arthritis, but even an imaginary improvement is worth having.

Then on Saturday I met a paranormal investigator. You’ll have to come back later for details, as I need to get down to the launderette now. Suffice to say that if I had doubts about healing…


Feeling Better Already

The foot still hurts, but I’m feeling a lot more cheerful and I’m actually starting to think again, even though it’s only a couple of hours from my last post. Julia says I’m also looking pink again after several days of looking grey.

While I was in the surgery this afternoon, despite having a book in my pocket, I just didn’t have the energy to read it. This is much more of an indicator of my wellbeing than a temperature measurement, because, as we saw earlier, I didn’t actually notice I had a temperature.

I’ve been missing my photography recently so I’ve decided to post a few of my favourite photos.

The featured image is one of the mice off a wheatsheaf loaf. I always liked making them, both the loaves and the mice. It’s actually very simple, though I never did get the knack of drying them out properly, so they had a tendency to curl up and go mouldy.


Little and Large!

I couldn’t do without a picture of the Odd Couple. I haven’t been able to visit for a few weeks now, but I’ll be going as soon as I can walk.


Nuthatch at Rufford Abbey

I like Nuthatches, and we had a good day at Rufford on this particular day. In fact we’ve never had a better day photographing birds in the woods at Rufford. However, I live in hope.


Julia at Clumber Park

There are other subjects for photography apart from birds, wives for instance. This is a particularly fine example, and I would probably have starved to death if she hadn’t been here to look after me over the last few weeks.


I forget the name of this one, but it’s quite impressive.

I’m going to miss the garden this year, it was so easy to pop out when the sun shone. Our own garden needs a bit of work after being ignored for years.


Right place, right time

I may have to enhance the rainbow, but it’s still a favourite shot of mine.

More photographs in a day or two.


Medecine, mistakes and a misapprehension

On the grounds of good taste I’m not going to go into detail about what happened at hospital this afternoon.

The facilities are good, the staff were cheerful and I was only away from home for 45 minutes (we can see the hospital from our house so travel doesn’t take long). Despite this I’m not very happy with the experience.

It’s hard to feel satisfaction when you go in for tests and come out without having the tests done.

The NHS did not cover itself in glory today.

However, my day was better than the man who was waiting with me. He  was under the misapprehension that they were going to put the camera down his throat.


Today’s photographs are just a few selected from thousands…



Pride, a fall and more gingerbread

I was very pleased with myself last week after the gingerbread baking session.

Obviously I should have known better, pride going before a fall, and all that. Or, Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18) for those of you who prefer your quotes accurate.

To put it another way, whilst having a second go to make sure the recipe works, I had a bit of a problem and the biscuits were not as good this time. I won’t bore you with details, but I will have a bit of a rethink.

Then I tried making Grantham Gingerbread. They are a traditional biscuit, first produced by accident in 1740, and not really like a gingerbread at all, being light in colour and sweet in taste, with not much ginger flavour. That will be something that changes before the next batch.

Mine turned out looking suitably cracked, but rather flat, at which point I remembered that I should have used self-raising flour rather than using the plain flour I had just used in the gingerbread men.

Even so, some had risen and had honeycomb centres, so they weren’t too bad.

Based on a post in Pies and Prejudice (a fine food blog, though modesty prevents me mentioning who writes it) I had an unusual salad with my lunch today – nasturtium leaves and flowers, feral rocket and a cultivated sorrel leaf.


Foraged nasturtium salad

Julia and the girls started to assemble the poppy project ready for November, using the poppies made by using the bases of plastic bottles.

We had enquiries about Men in Sheds, an educational visit for next spring, renting the room, apple pressing and a forthcoming visit (the teacher wants to know what we have planned – I’m not sure she is expecting the answer “nothing” so I’d better get thinking).

At the end of the day, we had unexpected visitors, which was pleasant, and gave me a chance to offload some biscuits.

That’s about it.

I’ll be going soon, just need to get down on my hands and knees to find out what is jamming the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet.

There’s always something…




Flintham Show

Well, after days of baking and making salt dough shapes the show finally arrived, as did busloads of kids.

Apart from salt dough and bread tasting we had the bread story,  corn dollies (with paper straws), the bread shed, adverts for our two new educational units (Festive wreaths and the Great War), the famous Ecocentre bread-plaiting roadshow (modesty prevents me telling you which charismatic,  bearded fat man runs that) and Julia’s two pig sculptures made from straw bales..

Of course, with all the good stuff, we also had a helping of adversity. One of the wheatsheaves, having dried badly, developed cracks before falling apart, and Julia’s pigs suffered from an outbreak of vandalism. They were popular all day, but for some reason we kept having to retrieve the snouts and ears from various souvenir-hunting children.

In a short break I managed to knock up a small wheatsheaf loaf to check how practical it was as a group exercise. It seems OK in terms of scale and time, though I couldn’t get anyone to give it a try on the day. That’s one for next week. Note the decorative charring to the smaller loaf – a feature of all our bread on the day.

Fortunately the day, which started cold and drizzly, was dry and sunny by the  time the gates opened and all the hard work of the show committee paid off. The photos don’t do it justice, but it’s hard to fit it in with the other activities. By the end of the day all I wanted to do was sit down – one bread roll a child for 80 children is works out at about 12 sessions and 6 kilos of dough, all mixed by hand.

The results of the Bread Test were:

  1. Home baked white
  2. TESCO cheap white sliced
  3. Home baked brown and shop bought seeded brown  (a tie)

We’ve run this session a number of times and it’s always the same – a narrow win for home made white over Chorleywood white sliced with brown, seeded and sourdough lower down. So I won, but it’s depressing.

It’s the first day of our marathon session – six days and six visits.

I did the shopping yesterday – enough for 100 pizzas plus various other bits. I then spent a couple of hours on the farm cutting veg for pizza toppings and set things out for two classes of 22.

It was a good thing I got a good start as we (a) got stuck in traffic for half an hour and (b) had to clean the corn mill, which had been brought back from the barn in a dreadful state.

By the time I had finished cleaning, the school arrived.

It all went well, apart from the second session, where I forgot to write the names on the baking parchment. Despite this,the kids managed to identify their pizzas and everyone went away happy. I could have shown you a picture of this, if only Julia hadn’t borrowed my camera and disappeared with it.

The pictures I’ve used show kids handling the keets, making butter and standing outside the shed. The featured image is kids looking at cabbages. On a rainy Monday it was the best we had.

The session wasn’t brilliant, and there was a definite lack of education, because 22 six-year-olds can be a bit to excitable for that sort of thing. I’m unhappy that it was a lightweight session, but I’m happy that everyone seemed to have fun and the teachers were positive about the day. After examining the factors that lead to complaints being made against me, I’m taking a new attitude and just letting things drift along. If they don’t want to listen, what does it matter? I’m getting paid anyway, unlike the days when they cancel at short notice and I don’t get paid.

So – pluses from today – good advance planning, a cheerful demeanour and cash in my pocket. We persuaded seven kids to have egg on their pizzas, everyone identified their pizzas and we now have seven Polish eggs for hatching. Alasdair , Vicki and Kirsty all provided valuable support (they were the only 3 here to today) and I was able to work nettles into the conversation.  I’m also working on a unit on the Columbian exchange as the theme on Friday is “Explorers”.

Negatives – the thought that I might have sold out, the lack of photos and the weather.

So all in all it’s been a good day.

It’s the same school visiting again tomorrow, but with only 30 children, then a group with learning difficulties, then a Brownie group for Thursday night, a school on Friday and a Guide Group on Saturday. I’m allowed a day off on Sunday.

I’m already seeing pizza every time I blink, so I don’t know what it will be like by Sunday!

Light Rye Bread that lives up to its name

I’ve often found that Light Rye Bread isn’t, so if you detect a slightly cynical tone here please excuse me.

I have managed to cook decent rye bread in the past, but I have to admit that I’ve also managed to use exactly the same recipe to make bricks only a week or two later. There’s something about me and rye that doesn’t mix.

So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I found the bread group doing light rye this morning.


Oat and Raisin cookies. 


Could be a new TV cooking double act. The Bread Lady and her sidekick.




Nicely floured and oven ready


When shall we three meet again? Sorry, couldn’t resist.


Different styles of loaf showing the grading from hand made to artisan and rustic. There are two more grades – “interesting” and “brave effort” but we avoided them.

As you can see, it all turned out well. Next lesson (in a fortnight) is going to be about making bread to hollow out and use as soup bowls for soup we will also be making. Usually I just lurk about and eat the free biscuits but for this one I may actually participate. I like soup.

Looking forward a little, In January, when many of them will be in India, it looks like I will be leading the session.

For a truly sophisticated bread making experience with the finest ingredients, technical hints and artisan skills you might be just as well waiting till February.